Hoyte says Broadcasting Committee should send strong message By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
May 17, 2002

Related Links: Articles on Mashramani Day Jailbreak
Letters Menu Archival Menu

LEADER of the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R), Mr. Desmond Hoyte is calling on the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) to send a strong message to all those who might believe the recently established bipartisan committee is a "rubber stamp".

He is also urging the committee not to allow itself to be influenced by persons in the Government or members of the diplomatic community in deciding the appropriate sanctions for the two television stations which recently aired a videotape by wanted criminal Andrew Douglas.

The ACB is tasked with reviewing the controversial videotape which contains a statement by notorious criminal Douglas, dressed in Army wear and holding an AK 47 rifle.

Douglas is one of the gang of five armed and dangerous criminals who escaped from the Georgetown Prison on February 23, and who have since been linked to a series of robberies, hijackings, kidnappings and murders.

The five wanted men have eluded a massive and intensive manhunt by the Police with support from the Army. Police are also offering a $10M reward for information leading to their arrest.

Hoyte, at a news conference yesterday at his party's Congress Place headquarters, Georgetown, said "it is quite wrong and absurd for people to be telling the advisory committee what decisions must be arrived at" regarding the airing of the `Douglas tape' last week Thursday by television stations VCT Channel 28 and WRHM Channel 7.

He said a member of the diplomatic community "has in fact been sort of pre-empting the decision of the advisory committee" on the same issue.

"I hope the committee takes a strong line and rejects this attempt to influence it," Hoyte told reporters.

He alleged that persons from the Government, including Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, "have in fact been pre-judging the issue and telling the advisory committee what it should do".

"...the advisory committee should take a strong stance, dig its heels in and say you are not going to interfere in our jurisdiction," the Opposition Leader urged.

According to Hoyte, the body has so far made no determination or decisions regarding the tape but "yet the Government, which is the ultimate agency for applying sanctions, has come to a conclusion, not only about culpability but about sanctions".

"I don't buy that. I mean I have my own views on the rights of journalists and of media houses but I am totally opposed to this pre-judgement of this issue or this attempt to influence the advisory committee or dictate to it and I hope that the advisory committee would send out a strong message to all those people who want to believe it is a rubber stamp (that) it is not intended to be a rubber stamp," Hoyte stated.

Luncheon told his regular post-Cabinet news conference Wednesday that the administration will move to ensure that the two television stations involved in the airing of the tape "are visited with the most appropriate sanctions provided by our system".

He called the broadcast of the tape "a totally unaccepted and abhorrent deed" and a "criminal aggravation".

He said, too, that the `Douglas tape' is a classical example of the irresponsible lengths to which media houses can go in the name of information, in the quest to attract viewership and in an irresponsible effort to display more and more sensationalism.

The airing of the tape by the television stations contributed directly or indirectly, "to the worsening of the level of insecurity and fear" that prevails in the Guyanese society and fans the flames of ethnic discord among people, he said.